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Thread: Mazzarri's defensive flaws highlight his stubbornness

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    Mazzarri's defensive flaws highlight his stubbornness

    Let me be clear from the start – I don't think Mazzarri should be fired. Nor do I think he is a terrible coach. He's done relatively well with a really mediocre squad, and I think we've got a structure that wasn't present last season.

    Mazzarri certainly hasn't been perfect. But for all the complaints about Mazzarri's refusal to play two strikers or his lack of faith in Belfodil and Kovačić, it's his defensive system that's actually been the biggest problem.

    And I don't think all the goals can be blamed on 'individual errors.' All the goals we conceded against Napoli have a common pattern.

    Napoli's first goal
    Screen Shot 2013-12-16 at 3.17.29 AM.jpg
    It’s easy to fault Yuto Nagatomo for the first goal – heading into the box is a terrible individual error. But it’s more important to look at what’s happening around him. Six Inter players are in the box, four Napoli players lurk just outside. Not a single Napoli player is marked. The theme is established pretty quickly – all the focus is on the ball, and midfield runners are left unattended to.

    Higuain was the goalscorer, but it could've been any Napoli player around the box.

    Napoli's second goal
    Screen Shot 2013-12-16 at 3.22.44 AM.jpg
    The second goal is a similar pattern. Again, you might fault individual errors – Ranocchia was burnt for pace. But the bigger issue is Dries Mertens’s run. Hugo Campagnaro halfheartedly runs back, but he might as well not be there for all the space that Mertens is given to score. Note also Jonathan’s approach toward the ball, leaving his marker (Insigne?) free.

    Napoli's third goal
    Screen Shot 2013-12-16 at 3.24.00 AM.jpg
    Rinse and repeat for Napoli’s third. All the defenders are focused on Mertens winding up for his long shot. Saphir Taïder at least does the job of tracking Blerim Džemaili but doesn’t actually do anything defensively. By the team Taïder and Ranocchia have actually turned attention to Džemaili, the Swiss midfielder has already scored and wheeled away in celebration.

    Napoli's fourth goal
    Screen Shot 2013-12-16 at 3.27.34 AM.jpg
    And it’s not much different for the fourth. Although the still image makes it look like Callejon is being marked by Rolando and Nagatomo, in truth the Spaniard has made a completely unmarked run from outside the box. He slips in between the two Inter defenders without being troubled by either one of them to convert Insigne’s low cross.

    In every single Napoli goal, it’s the exact same pattern. Inter players are drawn to the ball, a Napoli player makes a vertical run from midfield, the Napoli player scores. For the second and third goals, Campagnaro and Taïder at least track their players, but in either case no pressure is put upon them. And the pattern isn’t unique to this game – take, for example, Totti’s opener in Roma’s 0-3 win.
    Screen Shot 2013-12-16 at 3.05.21 AM.jpg
    Again, all the focus is on Gervinho on the ball, while Totti and two other Roma players are left completely unmarked despite the presence of seven outfield Inter players.

    Conclusion

    So where does this put Mazzarri? Why has Mazzarri been unable to transfer his Napoli side’s defensive solidity? Has Mazzarri changed his formula?

    The problem is that Mazzarri hasn’t changed, but the squad he’s managing has. Napoli's system under Mazzarri focused on energetic box-to-box midfielders running back to help protect the defense. We see elements of that here at Inter – look at Taïder attempting to track Džemaili. And individual errors have certainly played a part – Nagatomo should've not headed the ball into the box, Campagnaro should've done better against Mertens.

    But when you see the same type of goal conceded again and again, it suggests there's a bigger problem. To put it simply, Mazzarri doesn't have the box-to-box midfielders – Inler, Džemaili, Behrami – he had, yet he sets out his team as though he does. This is a problem, because it leaves Inter far too open in the middle. Only Taïder is the type of midfielder that allows Mazzarri's defensive system to function. Cambiasso is too immobile, Guarín is undisciplined (and plays close to the striker anyways), and Álvarez and Kovačić work hard but aren't defensively great. Mazzarri is trying to force his midfielders to do a job that they simply are not good at, and Inter are too defensively slack as a result.

    That's also an indictment of Inter's transfer policy, since they were unable to recruit properly for Mazzarri. But Mazzarri also has the responsibility adapt his tactics to fit the squad he does. Mazzarri's clearly a tactically adept and clever manager, so his failure to adapt thus far just further highlights his stubborn outlook.
    Last edited by Wings; 16 Dec 13 at 21:33.


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    I just wanted to add that if the same players keep fucking up over and over again, it's not the coach we need to replace, it's the players. I do agree about the same mistakes we make, and I also agree that we need to make big changes, throw some top earners out of the club (Cambiasso, Chivu, Milito) because this is not a charity club.

    But I also think all of this has been said before and it's said that we see it, but the management doesn't or they don't have the balls to adequatly replace players like Cambiasso.
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    bring mourinho back and you will see some serious balls ... cambi will be benched in a second
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    Nice article, and I said before our main problem is not the defense itself (although that has plenty of issues) but lack of midfield cover, which only Taider kind of gives.

    Compare the best defensive record of a team in Serie A (Roma) and us. What is the main difference? Is it maybe that they have De Rossi to cover everything?

    Never do I see De Rossi go up and try to act like an AM like Cambiasso even though he's twice as fast. He always stays deep.

    I really hope our new DM will be someone young with a lot of pace. Ironically, I think we're really missing Gargano.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fapuccino View Post
    Nice article, and I said before our main problem is not the defense itself (although that has plenty of issues) but lack of midfield cover, which only Taider kind of gives.

    Compare the best defensive record of a team in Serie A (Roma) and us. What is the main difference? Is it maybe that they have De Rossi to cover everything?

    Never do I see De Rossi go up and try to act like an AM like Cambiasso even though he's twice as fast. He always stays deep.

    I really hope our new DM will be someone young with a lot of pace. Ironically, I think we're really missing Gargano.
    Yeah, even though I did not really like him, Gargano would've been perfect for Mazzarri's system. Which is also why I think a new MF should be our priority in winter. We really need someone who will A) sit in front of the defense and make the right tackles (a DM), B) run back and help our CBs (a b2b MF), or C) position himself to cut off passing angles and make interceptions (someone like Motta or Carrick).

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    In a podcast for FCinternews(or some shit like that), one of the guys said that Inter's Mourinho was great defensively, because everytime someone made a mistake, someone else would be there to cover them, and so on. Something we haven't done at all since Mou left.

    I love seeing De Rossi play so much. Everytime a fullback/CB is out of position, he's always there covering for them.

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    I agree, our marking is very loose, complete failure in marking designated zones.

    And it isn't just one or two players, both midfielders and defenders just don't seem to know who they need to mark and when, completely clueless. Almost as if they never trained the defensive phase of their game.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fapuccino View Post
    I love seeing De Rossi play so much. Everytime a fullback/CB is out of position, he's always there covering for them.
    Something that Cuchu doesn't actually do often.
    Last edited by sanka; 19 Dec 13 at 06:42.
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    Quote Originally Posted by dnv View Post
    Something that Cuchu doesn't actually do often.
    It's kinda hard considering how much time Cuchu spends attacking.. He's pretty much the only player allowed in the opponent's box besides Palacio.
    Best match thread opener ever.

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    Nice article, but like you said this is not Mazzarri's fault, but he doesn't have enough player at his disposal that can do more defensive duty, against Napoli, we were out of focus, the second and the third goal came from counter attack, which left Cuchu, Campagnaro in front...
    In Mou's era, we have Motta, Cuchu, and Pupi who covered well, and we have one wall and one beast in central defense, Cuchu was always there in front of the box or in the box to cut the game, while Motta or Pupi chasing down the ball, and that's how the system work...
    But now, Mazza only have Cuchu, Kuz, and Mudi as his DMC, they are great DMC, calm, pass well, read the game well, but they are running like a snail, who can't covered the whole ground, Guarin can do the duty, but his brain doesn't allowed him to be there, Taider is the one who I'd like to see in front of 3 defender, but his first touch, and calmness can cost you cheap goal, and that never do the trick.
    I believe if we can find someone like Nainggolan, De Rossi, Strootman, or someone with good work rate, passing, calmness, and stamina, the Mazzarri's system will work...
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gaga Interfan View Post
    Nice article, but like you said this is not Mazzarri's fault, but he doesn't have enough player at his disposal that can do more defensive duty, against Napoli, we were out of focus, the second and the third goal came from counter attack, which left Cuchu, Campagnaro in front...
    In Mou's era, we have Motta, Cuchu, and Pupi who covered well, and we have one wall and one beast in central defense, Cuchu was always there in front of the box or in the box to cut the game, while Motta or Pupi chasing down the ball, and that's how the system work...
    But now, Mazza only have Cuchu, Kuz, and Mudi as his DMC, they are great DMC, calm, pass well, read the game well, but they are running like a snail, who can't covered the whole ground, Guarin can do the duty, but his brain doesn't allowed him to be there, Taider is the one who I'd like to see in front of 3 defender, but his first touch, and calmness can cost you cheap goal, and that never do the trick.
    I believe if we can find someone like Nainggolan, De Rossi, Strootman, or someone with good work rate, passing, calmness, and stamina, the Mazzarri's system will work...
    Well, that's part of what I'm saying. It's not Mazzarri's fault that Branca and co. were unable to find proper recruits. But it's Mazzarri's fault when he tries to play Cambiasso like he's fucking Inler or something. A more experienced Taider-like midfielder would probably do wonders for our defense.

    You are right, Taider is probably the best fit for Mazzarri's system, and he's showing signs of promise. Let's hope he takes advantage of this.

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